As an experienced flight attendant, I’ve heard my fair share of myths and misconceptions about the job. One of the most persistent and surprising is the idea that flight attendants are somehow prohibited from getting married.
However, as crazy as this seems, this is one airline rumour that has a firm basis in reality. In fact, there have been several airlines where this “singles only” rule — among other draconian restrictions placed on flight attendants — remained part of the hiring criteria for decades.
Let me set the record straight: in 2023, flight attendants can and do get married. In fact, many of us have families and significant others just like any other profession. However, it wasn’t always this way…
The 1960s — when flight attendants were banned from being married!
It might surprise you to know that in the past, plenty of Western airlines had strict rules about flight attendants being single.
While the 1950s saw significant progress for women’s rights in many careers, flight attendants actually went backwards. Many airlines began implementing additional restrictions to flight attendants — such as strict age limits — just as the rest of society were removing them!
Pan Am, for example, famously required their flight attendants to be unmarried and even had draconian weight and height requirements, essentially only employing those blessed with figures of models!
As shocking as it is from a modern perspective, the official reasoning was that airlines believed married women were more likely to become pregnant and therefore be unavailable for work.
The unofficial reason is even more outrageous! Airlines believed flight attendants should be free to flirt with passengers and once married should be looking after their man at home!
Flight attendants were one of the first groups to file a case under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which made biased hiring practices illegal. As social attitudes evolved, they challenged biased rules through the courts. They argued for their rights as women and against age, race, and marriage restrictions.Flight Attendants Who Fought For Equality — AirAndSpace
Thankfully, those days are long gone. Nowadays, in virtually all countries, it is illegal for an employer to discriminate against an employee based on their marital status. So, no modern airline in most of the world can require flight attendants to be single.
But, as an international career, there may still be some parts of the world with backwards attitudes to employment that still unofficially promotes these restrictions. And, most surprisingly, the requirement for flight attendants to remain unmarried was only removed from some of the world’s most popular airlines very recently!
Recent airline marriage controversy
It is common knowledge that countries in the Middle East have conservative cultural and social norms that influence the policies of their airlines.
Crew members must be picked up from work only by their father, brother, or husbandQatar Airways, discrimination at work — The Guardian
In the past, some Middle Eastern airlines had strict rules and requirements for their flight attendants, including a requirement for them to be single.
What may shock readers, is that these employment restrictions existed right up to 2015!
That’s right, flight attendants would be fired if they became pregnant or got married less than a decade ago. The several time winners of, Skytrax’s Airline Of The Year Award, Qatar Airways only removed these rules following condemnation from the UN’s international labour organisation.
As of 2023, publicly, most Middle Eastern airlines, including the big three of Qatar, Etihad — and my previous employer — Emirates, have dropped this restriction. These airlines now all allow their flight attendants to be married or in a relationship.
However, it is rumoured that some lesser known Middle Eastern airlines unofficially keep this requirement, and privately employed flight attendants on business jets are exempt from dubious hiring practises.
In conclusion, the idea that flight attendants are prohibited from getting married is a myth. However, cabin crew being prohibited from getting married was common place in virtually all airlines throughout the 1950s-1960s. More worryingly, some flight attendants have been fired for getting married right until 2015!
Thankfully, while there may be some exceptions in certain parts of the world, the vast majority of airlines no longer have such restrictions. So, if you’re considering a career as a flight attendant, don’t let this myth discourage you.
With that said, being married or in a relationship as a flight attendant can have its challenges. The nature of our job requires us to be away from home for long periods of time, and it can be difficult to maintain a healthy work-life balance. But, with good communication and understanding, it is possible to have a successful career as a flight attendant and a happy marriage or relationship.